Last spring, Time Magazine declared it the moment of "The Mindful Revolution" while Oprah attracted more than 2.6 million participants for her 21-Day Meditation Challenges. Couple these public relations pushes with the scientific studies that continue to chart the benefits of meditation that are coming out every week. (One claims it improves decision-making.)
All of this hoopla has brought an interesting new crop of people to the cushion!
The Path, a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly), meditation gathering is aimed towards these newcomers -- specifically young urban professionals. For now, they meet in pop-up locations; last Friday was held at the Soho Synagogue while this past Monday was in a West Village townhouse.
The Path co-founder, Dina Kaplan said, “We look for spaces that are beautiful, inviting to our audience of tech entrepreneurs, investors, filmmakers and artists - and inspiring to us. We will keep moving around for a bit, and will eventually land in our own space.”
Doors open at 7:45 am. The scene outside could easily be confused with that of an exclusive night club complete with entrance attendant — clipboard in hand — checking names off from the prepaid guest list. Once welcomed into the building, beverages are served. Hip juicers Rawpothecary and Runa were on site to pour the beverages last week.
The Path attracts button-down-shirted men and women in shift dresses who don’t take their shoes off on the cushion. It’s this idea of using meditation as a productivity tool that appeals.
“I’ll do anything to get an edge, and grow my company,” said Isaac Brody, owner of Social "Like" Marketing. He met Kaplan at an Ivy Connect event, and followed up on her invitation to check out The Path.
Dezireh Eyn, COO of Platinum Real Estate, found The Path to be practical which she preferred over previous meditation classes that were too theoretical for her taste. “This one wasn’t too deep, and very relatable,“ she said of the session. “And it gave me take-aways.”
The sequence, though it may vary slightly per sitting, is based on four core techniques -- breathing, mindfulness, mantra and intention -- developed by instructor and co-founder, Charlie Knoles.
At the Soho Synagogue, the breathing meditation (also referred to as energizing) had arms extended by the ears, fingers turned down, and thumbs facing inward to accompany breath of fire. “Use this instead of your 4:00pm coffee!” said Kaplan.
The mindfulness segment is based on present moment awareness. The instruction was to watch the breath then gently call back the mind when it wandered. Kaplan told participants that this modality is great for focus, and could benefit those who work with excel spreadsheets.
The third meditation, used the mantras so and ham to center the thoughts. (The mantra can change depending on the session.) Kaplan said this style can be effective for creative thinking.
The last modality, intention, could be tailored towards many purposes, but at this sitting, compassion was used. Kaplan explained that it could be helpful before going into a tough conversation. The meditation itself included affirmations such as “I am moving towards kindness” and “I embody kindness.”
Previous instructors at The Path, have included Knoles, Elena Brower, and Light Watkins. “We bring in teachers who are passionate about meditation, open to the idea that different techniques can serve different people at different times of the day, and teachers who embody the message of The Path - that meditation can improve your life, productivity and outlook,” said Kaplan.
Kaplan, who trained in Vipassana, MBSR, Zen, mantra meditation, and has studied a variety of compassion, loving-kindness meditations, along with self hypnosis and kundalini, is very clear on the The Path’s purpose.“The idea is to make it fun and easy for people to learn meditation, and begin developing a regular practice. We want people to learn to meditate, and also to bring people with a regular practice into a community of meditators. We also believe different people will have an affinity for different types of meditation, so we want to teach people several techniques to see what appeals to them.”
Meditations are held weekly on Mondays from 8am-9am. Tickets cost $20, and must be pre-purchased online as no seats are sold at the door. Request an invite by clicking here.